The women of Kansongho buy raw cotton grown in other parts of Mali and transform it to earn income. They pick out the seeds, card, and spin it, then hire men to weave it into strips of cloth. Then, they sew the strips together into wider cloths and sell it to a neighboring village for indigo dying. Tired of sporadic availability in the nearby market, exorbitant prices and credit policies, and vagaries in quality, the women of Kansongho decided to create their own cotton bank in their village. With the help of The Tandana Foundation, they purchased a large stock of cotton in 2010 and created a committee to manage it. After receiving training in how to manage the stock and keep records, the committee divided the stock among all the women who wanted to work with cotton, noting how much each woman would owe for the cotton once she had sold the cloth made from it. With help from local men and our 2011 Mali Volunteer Vacation volunteers, they also built a storehouse to keep the cotton safe. Each year, they use proceeds from the previous year's sales to restock the cotton bank.
Cotton is a vital resource for many women in the village of Sal-Dimi. They transform raw cotton into cloth, which they sell to indigo dyers in neighboring villages to earn income. However, for a number of reasons cotton is not always available. Women from small villages must travel to larger market towns to buy cotton. When it is available, they are often forced to buy it at high prices and can't be sure of its quality.
Tired of these struggles, women in Sal-Dimi decided to set up their own cotton bank and asked Tandana to help. Tandana purchased a large stock of cotton for each cotton bank. A committee of women, selected by the assembly of all women in each village, manages the stock and keeps records. Any woman in the village can purchase the cotton she needs on credit, and the committee records how much each woman owes. Once the participants have sold the cloth, they repay the money they owe to the cotton bank. The committee uses this fund to buy the cotton stock for the following year. This process continues year after year. Having the cotton banks in their villages means women have access to cotton year-round at an affordable price.
Each cotton bank also has a storehouse, which serves as a secure place to store cotton as well as a gathering place where women can come together to work their cotton, share ideas, have meetings, and organize other activities. In Sal-Dimi, community members and a local contractor built a storehouse and shade hangar for the cotton bank with Tandana support.
The management committee is made up of 8 members, including a president, a vice president, an accounts secretary, a treasurer, a sales secretary, a credit secretary, a dispute secretary, and an honorary President. The president presides over all meetings, especially meetings concerning requests for cotton. Both the accounts secretary and the treasurer are in charge of the cotton bank's funds. The accounts secretary and the sales secretary keep records on the days the cotton is distributed. They keep records of the bank's inventory, the amount of cotton distributed to each participant, and how much money each participant owes the bank. Each village has also chosen a manager with strong numeracy skills to double check records and support the secretaries in their work.
Yarou Plateau, Mali
In Yarou Plateau, likewise, women wanted control over their own stock of cotton. So, Tandana also supported them in creating a cotton bank. There, the cotton bank is making use of a storehouse that the village previously built with Tandana support for a school lunch program that is no longer functioning.
“We are now considered as women capable of generating income, thanks to Anna and our partnership with The Tandana Foundation, which helped us start the Savings for Change Groups. This is the first organization that has supported projects designed particularly for women, with, first the Savings for Change Groups, and today, the cotton bank. Long live The Tandana Foundation and its partners! It was my dream to see the implementation of the cotton bank, which was so desired by all the women of Yarou-Plateau. Now, thanks to The Tandana Foundation and its donors, all the women have access to good quality cotton at a good price anytime in our village.”
-- Kadia Samakan, Yarou Plateau
Women in Dana-Guire similarly wanted control over their own stock of cotton, especially after traders in the nearby market town of Ningari stopped selling cotton to them. Once they realized that most women from Dana-Guire could read the scales and could no longer be cheated, traders refused to sell to women from the village. Undeterred, women from Dana-Guire create their own cotton bank, which is called the Papa Hubert cotton bank to honor the generous donations of Tandana friends and family members who gave in memory of Ed “Papa” Hubert. Tandana helped with construction of the building for the cotton bank and provided training to the bank’s management committee.
“With the cotton bank, now we can buy our cotton easily and earn money to cover our needs. . . . We manage our cotton bank. When we go to the market to buy our cotton, we know the numbers, so it’s no problem.”
–Kadidia Yanogué, Dana-Guiré, Mali
The newly completed storehouse in Nounou will greatly benefit the cotton business of the women's association there.
Savings for Change, Mali
Using the Oxfam Savings for Change model, women form savings groups that meet weekly. Each week, the members of the group each put an amount of money they have decided upon into the group fund. Soon, they have built up enough money that they can make loans to the members of the group to help them start or expand micro-businesses. They repay these loans with interest set by the group. The groups make their own rules, and members memorize both the rules and the amounts of money out in credit and in their funds. At the end of the year, they share their group fund by dividing it evenly among all members. Then they start to save again. Thousands of women in Bandiagara District have benefited from this program, thanks to Tandana's programs and those of its partner, Vital Edge Aid.
"There has been a lot of change in the village. With Savings for Change, at the end of the year you get your share of the fund, and you can do something with that money right away. Even if you spend it, you can start saving again for next year."
--Marie Tembiné, Kansongho, Mali
"The best result is that before they got loans from the BNDA or Soroyiriwaso. With that, you have to pay interest, . . . and when they come they take their money with interest, the women are left empty-handed. Now with Savings for Change, with their own fund, they make loans to members of the group, they do their commerce with that, and they propose the interest for their group, they make their own rules, and they do their own credit. They don’t have to take a loan from someone or from the bank. Now they don’t have problems with the bank or with NGOs."
--Moussa Timbiné, Savings for Change Trainer
Cotton and Indigo Bank in Dassi
The storehouse for the new cotton and indigo bank in Dassi was completed. The leadership committee for this new bank was formed, participated in a training session, and received their supplies. They will manage a stock of both cotton and indigo dyeing materials using a revolving fund so that these materials are always available to local women who use them to generate income. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Mali for supporting this project.
Wadouba Township, Mali
Soap Making Workshop
Menstrual Kit Workshop